Meet the Quilters of Bunker Hill

Mary Sue Gordon and Dora Latty Work on the Raffle Quilt
DeeDee Lewis and Judy Rickett Cut Fabric in Background

An old-fashioned wooden frame secured with a small metal vise is stretching the quilt while a pair of women sit and stitch.  With precision, they secure the cotton quilt top to the other layers, one tiny stitch at a time.  Dora Latty says she only found time to start quilting after retirement.  "What I know is what I've learned out here."  Mary Sue Gordon also learned most of her quilting skills at the Bunker Hill Community Club, "I came out quite a long time before I actually made my quilt."  Now these women and several others are painstakingly making a special quilt that will be raffled off at year's end.
Dorothy Houseman Sews Binding

Nearby, Dorothy Houseman is hand-stitching the binding onto a cowboy motif quilt for someone.  The entire clubhouse is busy with stitching, ironing, cutting fabric and even a little work on the sewing machine.  The club is machine-stitching some handbags that will eventually be part of another fundraiser.  Some put together quilts faster on the machine.  But the quilters who meet at Bunker Hill are famous for their preservation of hand-stitched masterpieces.  So their December raffle and May quilt show bring people from all around who appreciate quality handiwork.  The proceeds go to keep the community center going because it's a gathering place for singings, dinners and pretty much anything else the Southwest Missouri community needs.

Club President Debbie Ziemianin
with Grandson Brandon
Club President Debbie Ziemianin remembers, "My grandma quilted here, and my aunt quilted here, and my dad went to 4-H here, so it's been in my family all my life."  Now her grandson, Brandon, is learning a little as she stitches up a project at the machine.  Bonnie McCool, Marilyn Smythia and Rochelle Pruett stop by to see what they can start working on before lunch.  All of the women are remembering quilter Betty Higgs, whose health has kept her away for a while.  She misses her group of friends here, and they're signing a card for her.

Judy Rickett says,  "I just love it, we all sit out here and we all gab and work and we all have a big dinner, we all bring potluck and we sit down and eat a big dinner together.  We do things for the community and it's fun."  Decades ago, the group would have likely been part of an extension service women's club.  Today, it's less formal.  Anyone interested in quilting is invited to show up and start stitching.  Most participants make a mix of personal and group projects.

Virginia Edwards Makes Handbags
I was especially touched when Gordon said she used to know my grandmother, Imel, who was a proficient quilter herself.  Although she could sew, my mother Ruth Ann never found the time to get involved in a group like this before her death from cancer at age 65.  They don't talk much about it, but some of the quilters have also suffered a loss.  They enjoy giving back to the next generation and to the community at large.  As Rickett said, "Quilting is not just sewing, it's putting yourself and your heart into a gift for someone."

If you're interested in an expertly made quilt and want to help preserve the art of hand-quilting, or to find out more about the raffle, you can reach the Bunker Hill Quilters at  Or call 417-223-5555 for more information.

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